July 18, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

I'd like to say that enchiladas are an all American summer dish...but yeah, about that. Anyways, who doesn't love a spicy, cheesy, gooey, smothered in homemade spicy sauce, topped with sour cream enchilada? That's what I thought- nobody.

The first time I made enchiladas I wouldn't even consider it actually making them. It was actually me just combining cooked chicken, chopped green chillis, cheese and canned enchilada sauce and calling it a day- clearly not doing the dish justice. So this time, and about three years later, I wanted to make them on point so that I could even cross the border and make a good impression...I think these did the trick!

Oh, and a little disclaimer- as you can tell by past, and present, pictures, my camera really isn't the greatest (it was actually a deal at Target) and neither is the lighting, I can never get it right so you can see how delicious they really are! The color gets washed out and so do all the tiny details illuminated by the lighting that my camera just doesn't seem to capture...oh well. That's what I get for being a college student!

Chicken Enchiladas

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into strips
2 tbs. olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbs. sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups (16 oz.) tomato sauce
7-10 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 tbs. cilantro paste*

Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a casserole pan.

In a large skillet, heat the 2 tbs. olive over medium. Add in the onions and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until the onions begin to feel soft and turn a golden brown. Then, add in the garlic, and sauté for an additional minute before adding the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and sugar. With a spatula, make sure that the onions and garlic are evenly coated with the different spices.

After they are all covered, add in the chicken. Again, using the spatula ensure that all of the chicken is evenly covered with spices. Then, pour in the water and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Upon achieving a simmer, reduce the heat to low and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

When the chicken is cooked, empty the entire skillet into the bowl, allowing the contents to pass through a sieve first in order to separate the onions and chicken from the sauce. Allow the chicken to cool for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator so it will be easier to work with.

To prep the casserole dish, spread about 1/2 cup of the strained sauce along the bottom, reserving the rest to cover the enchiladas after assembly.

Once the chicken is cooled, place it in a large bowl and mix together with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and cilantro paste. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the mixture along the center of a flour tortilla, roll it up, and then place it seam down in the baking dish. Continue with this method until all the filling is gone and your casserole dish is full (I found it hard to stop sneaking bites of the filling, it was delicious!) . Spoon the rest of the homemade sauce on top of the arranged enchiladas and then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes or until juicy and bubbling. Serve with a hefty dollop of sour cream!

*I used a cilantro base (Goya brand) instead of fresh cilantro 1) because we didn't have any fresh and they were out at the store and 2) because my mom is not a big cilantro fan. The base is great because it adds just enough cilantro flavor without overpowering the dish.

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